How Does Stress Affect Your Health?

We all suffer from stress from time to time and it can have an adverse effect on our health. Problems at work, at home, in our love life and money or health worries are all things that can put an enormous amount of pressure on us. Stress manifests itself in different ways and can have a very negative impact on our physical, mental and emotional well being.

What are the symptoms and effects of stress?

Physical effects

can include nail biting, sweating, dizziness and feeling shaky or faint. Stress can also change your eating habits, either by making you overeat or lose your appetite. More severe effects include shortness of breath, chest pains, stomach problems and a complete loss of interest in sex. The physical effects of stress build up over time. Suffering from long-term stress can even lead to raised blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Mental and emotional effects

of stress can include feelings of anxiety, anger, irritability and depression, and can cause sufferers to have trouble sleeping. It can make people feel out of control and unable to cope with even the simplest of tasks. Stress may also change your behaviour towards others and make you drink more alcohol or coffee, or smoke more if you are a smoker.

What can you do to relieve stress?

Diet: What we eat has a massive impact on our physical health, our mood and energy levels. Stress can affect your appetite, making you overindulge on fatty and sugary foods that are bad for you, or by making you not want to eat at all. This means your mood and energy levels will fluctuate wildly. On the other hand, eating healthily will make you feel better and regulate your energy levels, helping to make you feel calmer and more in control. It is also a good idea to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.

Exercise:

Exercising makes you feel happier and gives you more energy. It is also a healthy way of letting off steam when you are feeling stressed, instead of taking it out on yourself or other people, or relying on caffeine, alcohol or cigarettes.

Try to relax:

If possible, try to take time out from the cause of your stress. Having a soak in the tub or doing a hobby that you enjoy will distract you from your problems and help you to relax. You could also try meditation and breathing exercises.

Treatment for stress

Lots of people are reluctant to ask for help when they are stressed, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. You could try talking to a counsellor who will discuss what is causing your stress with you and help you to deal with it. Alternatively you could get advice from your GP. If your stress is causing problems such as depression or insomnia, your doctor may prescribe some medication to help.

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